Palestinian statehood declaration meaningless
Associated Press, July 4, 2000
JERUSALEM — A proclamation of Palestinian independence is meaningless
without Israeli approval, Israel’s justice minister warned Tuesday, a day after
the PLO’s chief policymaking body told Palestinians to prepare for statehood by
Without Israeli agreement, the Palestinians would be cut off from the world and
wouldn’t be able to travel between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which are
separated by Israeli territory, said the justice minister, Yossi Beilin.
Late Monday, the PLO Central Council ended a two-day meeting in Gaza by
calling on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to start the process of launching the
state, aiming for Sept. 13, the latest target date for completing a peace treaty
with Israel. The decision didn’t call for a unilateral declaration.
Palestinian officials said a declaration of a state wouldn’t necessarily be
made on September 13. Arafat told officials to check Palestinian public opinion
about the timing.
Asked Tuesday to explain the vaguely worded PCC decision, Arafat said
the intention was to implement previous leadership decisions, “especially the
one taken in Algiers in 1988.” At that time, the Palestine National Council
unilaterally declared Palestinian statehood, but didn’t outline the boundaries
of the entity.
Beilin said a unilateral declaration of statehood would have little meaning.
“A Palestinian state will not exist as long as Israel does not recognize it,”
he said on Israel radio.
Beilin, a prime mover in the secret process that led to the first
Israeli-Palestinian accord in 1993, hoped that the Palestinians wouldn’t take
“We are on the verge of the real thing. We are on the verge of an
agreement with the Palestinians and it would be a very big mistake if at that
moment they decide to unilaterally declare their own state,” Beilin told
Associated Press Television News.
U.S. President Bill Clinton talked by phone to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak
and Arafat on Monday night, Israel radio reported. Clinton is considering
whether to call a Washington summit meeting with Barak and Arafat, based on
the results of talks by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in the region
The object of the summit would be to hammer out a framework for a
peace treaty. Israel favors a summit, but the Palestinians say the gaps are still
Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy said the PLO Central Council decision shows
that optimistic predictions of a quick agreement were wrong. “The Palestinian
positions are so far out that it is impossible to accept them,” he told Israel
Differing with Barak, Levy has warned that the positions of the two sides
aren’t ripe for a successful summit.